When good designers go bad

There can be a conflict of interest when a designer stops working for the client and starts working solely for their own portfolio or personal artistic tastes.

This is often true of inexperienced designers who want to move on to bigger and better things as quickly as possible and who will attempt to apply the rules of what they consider to be ‘good’ design to just about anything, but how universal are these rules?

Let’s take Tropicana as an example. Here is Tropicana’s old carton, featuring a straw coming out of an orange.

A somewhat cheesy concept, perhaps, but one which had been selling orange juice for years up until that point. In spite of this, Pepsico decided that they wanted to improve sales by updating the packaging and changing the look of the whole brand. To do this, they brought in design ├╝berflakes the Arnell Group, who had recently redesigned the Pepsi logo itself by presenting one of the most notoriously ludicrous branding proposals in marketing history where they compared the new logo to the Mona Lisa and the earth’s magnetic fields. It needs to be seen to be believed: follow this link.

Anyway, I digress. The new Tropicana packaging looked like this: smooth, minimalist, refined, artistic design which denoted a high end product and aimed to capture the smoothness of the pulp and the quality of the product inside.

Unfortunately, this is not what the people who had been buying the carton with the picture of the straw coming out an orange wanted. They wanted a fun, summery drink that was made from oranges. Sales of Tropicana plummeted and the old packaging was reinstated. In total the redesign fiasco cost a sour $35million.

At the end of the day, a company with the resources of the Arnell Group should have seen this coming. Market research should have been carried out, focus groups consulted and the reasons why people buy Tropicana should have been fully understood before attempting to promote the product to a completely different target market.

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